The Bare Soul - January 9, 2011
Honoring God

Psalm 50:23 - He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; and to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.

It has been said, "to sacrifice your happiness for the happiness of the one you love, is by far, the truest type of love". While this is a noble aspiration, it nonetheless smacks of humanistic endeavor. Happiness is contingent upon outward circumstances rather than an inward sense of well-being. Jesus never promised happiness in this life, but He did promise joy as we would abide in His presence (Psalm 16:11). To live a joyful existence is to recognize that Jesus gave Himself as the greatest sacrifice known to mankind. He offered Himself up as the sacrificial lamb to honor the Father with the promise of many sons and daughters. While we can never equal His sacrifice (by living a perfect life and then laying it down for others) we can humbly honor the the Lord by continual thanksgiving for His most gracious gift of eternal life. As the Son honored the Father by giving His life, so we must honor Him with daily sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving for His mercy and grace. Giving Him praise is a selfless act that takes time away from ourselves and gives it back to God. To remove oneself from vain pursuits in order to invest time worshipping God, is the noblest endeavor of a child of God. However, everything that is at enmity with our Maker will seek to distract us from this undertaking.

We are all called as priests to serve before the Lord, continually offering up our sacrifice of worship and praise to the Lord (Exodus 19:6; Revelation 5:10). A few take this calling seriously and with earnest, while the vast majority of believers believe that their "priestly" duties, if any, are nominal and reserved for an hour on Sunday morning. What determines a true priest and a false priest to the Lord is our sacrifice of time, or if you will, our very lives in all that we do. The household of Eli in the second chapter of the first book of Samuel gives us a look at the apostasy in 1100 B.C. Israel as well as a parallel to the passion-less, religiosity of much of the westernized church today. Eli lived a compromised life as the chief priest at Shiloh, while he allowed his sons to live lives of robbery and debauchery. A man of God came and prophesied to Eli that surely his priesthood would not endure as the Lord had formerly promised because of the sins of Eli's sons. In  Samuel 2:30, the prophet pronounced judgment on the House of Eli: Therefore the LORD God of Israel declares, "I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever"; but now the LORD declares, "Far be it from Me -- for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed."  This prophetic word declared that very soon the sons of Eli would end their robbing God of the praise and honor due His name, as God was raising up another (Samuel) who would do all that was in the heart of God. No longer would God be dishonored by a priestly order that was at best, compromised. Through the order of Samuel, God would accord Himself honor through a model life that spoke thanksgiving and praise from a heart that was totally the Lord's.

The prophet declared the word of the Lord to Eli with a promise. Samuel was to prove this promise and walk in it all of his life. When God states that He will honor those who honor Him, it is not an idle statement. The Lord raised up Samuel above all others in Israel and made him a judge over the land. There was no other more honored and respected then Samuel. However, this wasn't something that happened overnight. Samuel set this dynamic in motion early in life, allowing it to mature in his latter years. Through Samuel's faithfulness to offer up righteous sacrifices, rather than those taken by robbery by the House of Eli (I Samuel 2:29), he was able to command the people's respect and more importantly, God's. Through his integrity, he offered up sacrificial offerings that "cost something". After all, a sacrifice that is not sacrificial in nature is not a sacrifice, but merely an offering. Samuel knew what it meant to sacrifice daily for the people by living obediently, praising and worshipping the Lord with a heart to honor the Almighty. Thus, no man could dishonor him, for God had first and foremost honored His servant.

Truly, we are all called as priests to serve before the Lord. It is our choice whether we serve as priests of the House of Eli or those of the House of Samuel. Those who dishonor God, He will dishonor. Likewise, those whom honor God, He will also honor. As noted in our lead verse, a life that is sacrificial in giving thanks to the Lord is a life that honors Him. It is not only lip-service, but a life committed to stand in the gap between God and mankind -- a life that is freely given for His glory. This, beloved, costs everything we possess. Are we willing to be priests like Samuel? Or, are we content with compromise and living lives of excessive selfishness? Only as we sacrifice everything will we find true honor. May we all find this place of high distinction before our God as we lay down our lives as Jesus laid down His, both today and throughout the rest of our earthly lives.

Lord God Almighty, help us to honor You with a life of sacrifice. May our worship and thanksgiving be a continual testament of lives that are totally yielded to You. May we honor You always, not looking to be honored ourselves, but accepting it with humility and grace as from Your hand. We give You thanks and praise. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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